Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Recent Books

The Scholar (July 2019)

By Dervla McTiernan

July 16, 2019

When Dr Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit-and-run outside Galway University late one evening, she calls her partner, Detective Cormac Reilly, bringing him to the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him.

A security card in the dead woman’s pocket identifies her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir apparent to Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics.  The multi-billion-dollar company, founded by her grandfather, sponsors university research facilities and has funded Emma’s own ground-breaking work.  The inquiry into Carline’s death promises to be high profile and high pressure.

As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself.  Cormac’s running of the case comes under scrutiny, and he is forced to question his own objectivity.  Could his loyalty to Emma have led him to overlook evidence?  Has it made him a liability?

The Ruin (July 2019)

By Dervla McTiernan

July 16, 2019

Galway 1993: Young Garda Cormac Reilly is called to a scene he will never forget.  Two silent, neglected children – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack – are waiting for him at a crumbling country house.  Upstairs, their mother lies dead.

Twenty years later, a body surfaces in the icy black waters of the River Corrib.  At first it looks like an open-and-shut case, but then doubt is cast on the investigation’s findings – and the integrity of the police.  Cormac is thrown back into the cold case that has haunted him his entire career – what links the two deaths, two decades apart:  As he navigates his way through police politics and the ghosts of the past, Detective Reilly uncovers shocking secrets and finds himself questioning who among his colleagues he can trust.

What really happened in that house where he first met Maude and Jack?  The Ruin draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t.

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective (July 2019)

By Susannah Stapleton

July 16, 2019

For more than thirty years, Maud West ran a detective agency in London, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest on 1905.  A tireless self-publicist, Maud’s exploits grabbed headlines around the world – a woman, solving crimes, how could they not?  But, in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity.  And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Who was Maud?  And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the golden age of crime?

In this enthralling true story.  Stapleton interweaves tales from Maud’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research, forensically examining the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth.

With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and continental blackmailers.  The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.

And So It Begins (June 2019)

By Rachel Abbott

July 2, 2019

Where does murder begin?  When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence?

Cleo knows she should be happy for her brother Mark.  He’s managed to find someone new after the sudden death of his first wife – but something about Evie just doesn’t feel right…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned.  Could Mark be causing her injuries?  Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

And as Evie stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?

The October Man (June 2019)

By Ben Aaronovitch

July 2, 2019

If you though magic was confined to one country…think again.

Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany’s oldest city.  So when a man is found dead with his body covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.

Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.

Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork.

With the help of frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he’s quick to link the first victim to a group of ordinary middle-aged men – and to realise they may have accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century.  But the rot is still spreading, literally, and with the suspect list extending to people born before Frederick the Great, solving the case may mean unearthing the city’s secret magical history.

… so long as that history doesn’t kill them first.

We Can See You (June 2019)

By Simon Kernick

July 2, 2019

You have it all.  Success.  A Beautiful Home.  A Happy Family.

And then in a heartbeat it’s gone; your life changed for ever.

You return home to find your beautiful daughter has been taken and a ransom demand left in her place.

More worrying still is the fact that the kidnappers seem to know everything about you, including dark secrets from your past that you would rather forget.

They can see you, they warn, and they will know if you tell the police.

But this is no ordinary abduction.  This is something far worse, and within hours you are on the run with only one thought running through your head.

That you will do anything to get your daughter back.

Even commit murder…


A Stranger in the House (June 2019)

By Shari Lapena

July 2, 2019

Why would you run scared from a happy home?

You’re waiting for your beloved husband to get home from work.  You’re making dinner, looking forward to hearing about his day.

That’s the last thing you remember.

You wake up in hospital, with no idea how you got there.  They tell you that you were in an accident; you lost control of your car whilst driving in a dangerous part of town.

The police suspect you were up to no good.  But your husband refuses to believe it.  Your best friend is not so sure.  And even you don’t know what to believe…

My Life, My Fight (June 2019)

By Steven Adams with Madeleine Chapman

June 25, 2019

For the first time, Steven Adams shares the story behind his meteoric rise from Rotorua to his emerging stardom in the NBA.

Adams overcame significant odds to become a top prospect in the 2013 NBA draft.  From there he went on to secure a four-year contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder – making him New Zealand’s highest paid sportsperson ever – and forge a reputation for his intense, physical style of basketball.

In this intimate and revealing account of his life story so far, the seven-foot centre reflects on his humble upbringing, the impact of his father’s death when he was just 13, the multiple challenges and setbacks he has faced, early career-defining moments, and what basketball means to him.

Told with warmth, humour and humility, My Life, My Fight is a gripping account from one of New Zealand’s most revered sporting stars.

Vallista (June 2019)

By Steven Brust

June 25, 2019

Vlad Taltos is an Easterner – an underprivileged human in an Empire of tall, powerful, long-lived Dragaerans.  He made a career for himself in House Jhereg, the Dragaeran clan in charge of the Empire’s organized crime.  But the day came when the Jhereg wanted Vlad dead, and he’s been on the run ever since.  He has plenty of friends among the Dragaeran highborn, including an undead wizard and a god or two.  But as long as the Jhereg have a price on his head, Vlad’s life is … messy.

Meanwhile, for years Vlad’s path has been repeatedly crossed by Devera, a small Dragaeran girl of indeterminate powers who turns up at the oddest moments in his life.

Now Devera has appeared again – to lead Vlad into a mysterious, seemingly empty manor overlooking the Great Sea.  Inside this structure are corridors that double back on themselves, rooms that looks out over other worlds, and-just maybe – answers to some of Vlad’s long-asked questions about his world and his place in it.  If only Devera can be persuaded to stop disappearing in the middle of his conversations with her…

Full of swordplay, peril, and swashbuckling flair, Vallista is a treat for longtime fans of this popular fantasy series; a deep dive into mysteries of Dragaera and all within it.

The Jealous Kind (June 2019)

By James Lee Burke

June 25, 2019

I’m going to say hello.  What’s wrong with that?

On Galveston beach in the Summer of 1952, Aaron Holland Broussard breaks every rule in the book by stepping into an argument between the most beautiful girl in Houston, Valerie Epstein, and her about to be ex-boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, and in an instant his life changes forever.

At age seventeen, Aaron’s found love.  He’s also made an enemy who isn’t going to let up until Aaron has paid the price.  Grady Harrelson isn’t just a rich, arrogant punk; he’s hooked up with Vick Atlas, the son of a notorious mob enforcer, and now Aaron has got a whole lot more to worry about than local greasers with ducktails, drapes and needle-nosed stomps.

Sucked into a world of Mexican dope-peddlars, sadists-for-hire and cold-blooded killers, Aaron soon finds the corrupt local cops aren’t looking to pull him out.  Outnumbered and outgunned, if Aaron’s going to save himself – and Valerie – from a violent end, he’s going to have to find a kind of courage that doesn’t reckon the odds.

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